When I arrived at Headquarters for the Journey, I had just spent 27 days in PA with my grandfather, who was on hospice, and was getting ready to pass away. Our family had left home March 17th unexpectedly, driven through the night, and spent the previous weeks ministering to my grandparents in my Grandfather’s last weeks of life. I was exhausted, emotionally drained, and I knew in my heart that my walk with God was not where it should be. I had not wanted to go to PA, and spending 3-4 weeks there had not been built into my schedule.
Having been on several journeys previously, I had learned not to tell God what he needed to do in my life, but rather, to ask Him what needed to be done according to His plan for my life. However, there was one thing I wanted from God on this journey, and that was to find out what He required of me in the area of my personal standards. I am nineteen years old, and I had come to the place of realizing that in the years to come, I would be held accountable for my choices in life. What would those choices be?
We drove to the Northwoods on Monday, and Tuesday night I came down with a fever and chills. I was miserable and tired, and still emotionally drained, and I laid in bed that night asking God “why?” I had gotten sick on a journey before, but now it was just me, lying in bed, with no one to talk to but God, and I didn’t feel like we were really getting along at the moment. In the past months, I had grown by leaps and bounds in my spiritual walk, but my wrong response to living with my grandparents in the last several weeks had not helped our relationship at all. The days crawled by, and I begged God to talk to me. It didn’t seem like I was getting anywhere. I wanted to seek his face, but I didn’t feel like it. Thursday, the day of Delighting in the Lord, came and went. I cried out to God on my walk around the lake, but it seemed like He was silent. I didn’t understand.
I stayed at Headquarters for a few days after the journey, and during those days, I had some time to just seek the Lord alone. I was sitting on my bed one night, and I flipped open my Bible to I Corinthians 9. The chapter was not highlighted, but the title in my Bible read “The necessity of self-denial.” I thought to myself, “This sounds like something I don’t want to read, but need.” I skimmed through it, and when I got to verse 22, it leaped off the page: “I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some… Know ye not that they which run in a race, run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.” Suddenly, it dawned on me. I had been crying out to God to answer me, but I was not ready for His answer. It was not an answer that was going to feel good, or be easy. It was one that would require self-denial.
My sister and I have a discipleship ministry and we both spend a lot of time talking to other girls about things like honoring their parents, and seeking God’s best. It was not until I read those verses that I understood what surrender was. It is not asking God to give you his best, but only if it fits your personal likes. It is totally throwing yourself on God, and telling him to do whatever it takes, no matter how hard or painful. The time in the Northwoods on the journey prepared me to trust God…to say “Yes Lord” even when it’s hard. I don’t know why God allowed me to get sick, or why He seemed so silent, but I do know what when God seems silent, He is still there. That is the beauty of the Lord. He never leaves. I chose that night to lay aside every “weight” (anything that would slow me down), even if it was contrary to my personal likes and desires. I laid down my preferences of dress, music, friends, activities, books…everything. Because can I win a race with all those things in my arms? No…but the desires that God gives us, He will fulfill. And those that are not from Him, he will take away. I can trust God…you can trust God, because He is faithful, and when it gets hard, He will hold our arms up in battle, and we will be victorious.
“I will freely sacrifice unto thee; I will praise thy name, O Lord, for it is good.” (Ps 54:6)
- Testimony by Hannah Stelzl (Girl’s Journey, April 9th-19th, 2011)